Wednesday, April 04, 2018

There must be away to turn this into a marketable skill

One day last week a coworker said to me, “you’re so good and fast at finding stuff.” This was after she mentioned a story she’d seen from Oprah on 60 Minutes (?) which she thought might interest me. In less than a minute I’d found the Oprah piece and the corresponding study and articles. Now, this isn’t terribly impressive as anything Oprah related is bound to be pretty easy to find but this is just another moment when my web search skills have been complimented. And I take a weird satisfaction in being able to hunt information down. I must have been a research librarian in a past life.

I mention this because I finally found something that I’ve been looking for for a while now. Not diligently mind you. Off and on when bored. I can’t even tell you why this has stuck in my head. Maybe it’s just that it proved to be so elusive and I can be stubborn. But today, I finally put in the right search terms and I found this sci-fi book I read in the 80s. Given how simple the terms were I’m amazed that it’s taken me years to track it down. (dudes. YEARS. If I dedicated this amount of focus to creating a new energy source I’m sure I’d be a gazillionaire by now. FACT.)

That this became a task for me is a mystery given that I don’t really have much interest in rereading the book. I do feel as if I should after the amount of time I’ve spent searching online for it. For now it’s enough to be able to say, “Yes! That’s the cover I remember!”

The Visitors cover

2 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I Think I’m Supposed to Hate Facebook

Now, hating Facebook isn’t a new thing. Hating Facebook is actually a requirement both for the people who use it and those that don’t it seems like. “It’s intrusive, it’s annoying, it enables people to share about all the stuff that no one gives one damn about!” Sheesh. Don’t you know? Well, now there’s even more of a reason to hate it. It allowed people the ability to use data in bad ways. I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to care about that, to have feelings, strong ones.

But, truly, the only feelings I have about it all is passive guilt. Because, yes, I’m not living under a rock so I’m aware of what’s going on. I’ve seen a few folks delete their accounts or talk about deleting their accounts so it makes me think that I should be indignant about this. That I should care about the breach and on some level I suppose I do. I do wonder how all these words we’re putting out into the great void, all the data we share is used, for us, against us.

I can’t quite seem to build up the proper level of ire, however. Which doesn’t at all translate to a great love of the social networking site either. Over the last year, perhaps two, I seem to be using it less. Or I share fewer things anyway. I still log in every day to see what folks are sharing. I hit the react “button” more often than I comment but I still get a sense of staying connected. People rail about that false sense of engagement and I understand it. I don’t confuse that superficial level of interactions with real, meaningful connections. But we may be at a point where we can’t turn back. I’ve tried in the last month or so to text friends more often and it sometimes feels a bit like pulling teeth. It’s hard to say if that’s a sign of the times or just a sign that, as an introvert, I tend to be friends with introverts. And we’re not exactly known for our mad communication habits.

More than anything else, I appreciate the ability to stay connected to family in El Salvador. For that alone I can’t really contemplate shutting the account down. I could join the chorus and rail against the machine but for better or worse this is the medium that is easier for my extended family to use so here we are.

I have been thinking for a while now though that I probably need to get into the habit of not using Facebook/Twitter/Google as a shortcut to signing into other websites. If I’m taking anything away from all of this is that there is such as a thing as being too connected.

In conclusion, I wish people went back to blogging. And I miss dynamic blogrolls. My, how very 2003.

2 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

Monday, March 19, 2018

Is this thing on?

I’m a procrastinator. I always have been. I probably always will be. I have no trouble remembering late nights sitting on the closet floor, furiously typing away trying to finish a paper that was due the following day, the brain feverishly jumping from one point to the other, the words falling in line. Why the closet, you ask? Well, that’s not really the point of this story but I’ll grant you that that’s a curious point to skip over. No real mystery, I’m sorry to say. When you share a room with your younger sibling and you don’t want to be a rude MFer by keeping that sibling up because you couldn’t do your homework at a reasonable hour, you type in the closet.

I said to my father once that I got my procrastinating habits from him. He denied it. He didn’t deny being a procrastinator himself. Just that, wait for it - he hadn’t gotten around to passing that on to me yet. I groaned and laughed, equal parts amused and annoyed that I’d set him up with such an easy joke.


I do better at work. I have to. Funny thing, if you don’t do what you’re asked and told at work, it sometimes can have a negative impact on pay day. And I like getting paid. On my personal time? Even when it’s something I say/think/feel I want? It’s still tough. And it’s still tough after several decades of knowing that the feeling I get when I’m in the zone, as good as that feeling may be, it doesn’t last. That rush of near genius doesn’t at all make up for the days, weeks of dread that I make myself feel. After I’m done doing whatever thing needs doing, there’s a sense of relief, a lightening of the load, and un-tensing of the shoulders but neither the relief nor the dread are enough to make me change my ways. Mind you, not everything gets pushed down the road. I also don’t want to give the impression that nothing ever gets done but usually the things that make me drag my feet are the things that also require mental and emotional effort. Which makes sense I suppose.

I finished recording the video that will be used in the parent profile for the adoption last week, after putting it off for a bit (we’re going to go with a bit because I don’t necessarily want to share how long I took. Not yet anyway). This past weekend was the first weekend in several where I didn’t go into it thinking, “I HAVE GOT to do this tomorrow.” And then Saturday went and Sunday went and I spent the week annoyed and anxious I hadn’t done it. So there was this feeling of endless possibility this weekend. Of relief. Mixed with sincere hope that what I put on the camera will convince someone that I will make a good mother to her child. But I don’t let myself think too much about that because that is what it is and either it works or it doesn’t.

So instead I went to the movies on Saturday and saw Love, Simon which was lovely and sweet. On the way home I saw a sign on a local library that announced another book sale. “Hmm,” I thought. Because I have all these books on my crowded bookshelves and because I’m on some kind of budget, buying books isn’t really a thing I do much of anymore.

But, a library book sale, that’s no trouble at all! I thought. Plus, because I don’t really buy books anymore and because I don’t read as fast as I used to, I also don’t have many books to donate these days. So, it’s a win-win-win I told myself. I get cheap books to read, which I can donate AND (yes, here’s the third win) if I walk the mile and a half to the library I get some serious steps in!

Because I’m a better excuse maker and justifier than mathematician I neglected to consider how much more work the 1.5 mile walk back would be while carrying a bag full of books. But anything worth having is worth sweating for a little bit is what I’m supposed to say here, I think.

With 50 looming around the bend I find myself marveling at the fact that 50 and me will soon be something that goes together. So I say to myself that I should probably start behaving like a grown up, even if I don’t always feel like one. Which is a funny thing to think since if you ask my mother she’ll tell you I’ve been 80 years old since I was born. I’ve long said that I’m layered like an onion so I shouldn’t find it so hard to feel both too young to be this old and too old to be this young.

While I ponder that, I’ll try to write more and also get through some of these books. 

 

2 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Wherever I go, there I am

There’s a reason I chose to focus my work around children and families. Were I a stronger and braver person I would have done what I said I would do - focus on child abuse prevention. But somewhere along the way, without consciously making a decision, I changed my mind. Perhaps because I know my limitations. Or maybe it’s just that, without an advanced degree doing direct work with such a vulnerable population didn’t seem advisable. Regardless, even working in the broader issues that impact children and families I still find myself. I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years now and it still surprises me to see myself in the work.

Not literally, obviously. That level of fame or infamy is not mine to attain but as I read today about the signs of eating disorders in young people, there I was. I read down the list, mentally adding check marks to the things that applied. I’m not a hypochondriac who imagines she has every symptom she reads about so I think I do a good job of being objective.

We all come at life’s experiences with baggage, don’t we? There may be people who say that baggage should be stowed in a deep locker at a train station, the key lost and the things forgotten. But I don’t know how to compartmentalize like that. I am who I am because of who I have been and who I was. That is neither a bad or good thing. it just is. Neutral until it can’t be. And so, I know my weaknesses, the fault lines. I sense the scars but don’t dwell on them. I recognize the limitations and try as much as I can to not let them bind me.

Still,

seeing the words. seeing the recommendations for how to address the risk factors. listening as the trainers go on about how to appropriately reach out to a young person in need

It makes me sad.

Not for the person I am today because as an adult, my choices, good or bad, my action or inactions are mine and mine alone.

But it makes me sad for the girl I used to be. The one who could have used someone quietly asking, “Are you okay?” but who never heard those words.

I am who I am because of who I was. And yet, in these moments I wonder, Who could I have been?

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Cloudy with a chance of 80s pop

My personal computer died several years ago.

Well, having typed that I feel the need to clarify. I might have had a slight role in the killing of said computer. It was a refurbished laptop that my brother had kindly gifted me due to the fact that my old old computer had decided it no longer wanted to do more than five minutes of work at a time. It booted up fine but after a couple of minutes the fan would kick on, give it the old valiant college try and then say, “Nah, girl. Your Facebooking isn’t worth this heat. Bye!”

So to the rescue my brother came. And that new old computer did the trick for a while. And while it was tricking (wait, what?) I would hear tell of this thing called the cloud. And articles and people would marvel about the flexibility and portability of the cloud! The cloud would solve all problems and I am certainly a fan of a problem-free life. But I also have this thing sometimes called procrastination. So I didn’t back up anything to the cloud. Besides, anything and everything I cared about (my photos and thousands and thousands of songs) was saved to my trusty external drive. Pfft. I’ll be fine, I figured.

You see where I’m going with this, yes? Of course you do because you’re smart. Smarter than me, definitely. So where were you when I most needed you?!? Hmm. That’s trouble of a different kind, no? Let’s move on.

One day I decided to upgrade the OS on this old new to me laptop and that’s when that laptop also said, “Nah, girl. Bye!” Except, perhaps knowing that the afterlife of any computer used by me (which means a drive full of badly Photoshopped images and messy CSS files) would be lonely, it decided to take with it, the external drive that I had neglected to disconnect prior to the upgrade. Really, when you think about it - it takes a special kind of skill to kill not just a computer but an external drive too.

I despaired for months over having lost thousands of mp3s collected over more than a decade. I’d say maybe a quarter of which I can recover if I take the time to rip my CDs, which thankfully I still have so that’s something but there’s other music that I’m just not going to be able to recover. Upon hearing my sad tale of musical woe, a friend tried to salvage the external drive and he ensured me he’d been successful. So for a year and some change I’ve been content with the knowledge that once I got a new computer I’d be able to pull my music back in and then do what I should have done ages ago, which is back it up to the cloud.

Sadly, so far the friend’s had no luck figuring out how to extract my music from his iTunes library. So close yet so far. You’d think that after almost 3 years of doing without my music library I’d not miss it anymore but I still feel a slight ache whenever I think of it all being gone. Granted, that’s probably due to the memories attached to many of those songs. Someone I cared for a lot ages ago helped me build that collection and that person and I are no longer in touch. And if we know anything about me, letting go of people I care about deeply isn’t the easiest thing for me to do.

Speaking of music, during the second adoption training class the group somehow got to talking about music and I made a joke about how my poor kid will grow up hearing 80s music and there was a collective groan. “Oh no,” someone said, “Don’t let that happen!”

So who knows. Maybe the loss of the music is the universe’s way of helping me to move on or sparing any poor child that I adopt from endless rounds of the Cover Girls or Expose’s greatest hits. Really, one shouldn’t question the Universe. It knows best.

3 comment(s) | Filed under: Adoption | Dailies

Sunday, July 09, 2017

What do you write about when you’re afraid to write?

For almost as long as I’ve been blogging, I’ve tried to be careful about what I write about work. When your early blogging memories include the knowledge of how the phrase “being dooced” came to be, you learn (or at least I did), to be vague when writing about work - if one even chooses to write about work at all, that is. Add to the already healthy fear of being fired for publishing things online that should best be kept to the confines of the work environment the very real fact that things went downhill quickly during the second half of the last year and that provided no incentive to get back to blogging.

Well, to be clear, all of 2015 and 2016 were anxiety producing both personally and professionally. When I found the new job and moved into my own place in Virginia, with the anticipation of things calming down (and having a personal computer again) I had this idea that I’d be able to turn some of my energy to the blog - both the content and the infrastructure.

I did start writing again, somewhat, as the archives show. I thought, with the start of the adoption process that I would maybe even write about that. But as I work through the (sometimes lonely) process of answering question after question, compiling document after document I find myself worrying about putting too much online. I don’t worry about there being anything technically wrong with my application. I’m not rich by any means but I could afford the care of a child with careful budgeting. That doesn’t set me apart from basically much of the child-having population. I have no worries about the background checks coming back with anything as there isn’t anything to come back. So that really only leaves the faceless, nameless people out there who will be gathering all this information, reviewing and assessing/judging me on my ability to be a good parent. I’m worrying for nothing, I know. The stuff I’ve posted on here, the stuff that’s online isn’t scandalous or even all that interesting and yet, pitted against couples wanting babies, two income families that might be better able to care for a child with less stress or worry about finances, I worry about sharing anything that could land me on the “Does she really think we’d ever pick her?” pile.

And so I don’t write. With not writing about work and not writing about the adoption process what does that leave?

I suppose I could tell you that I’m finally getting around to watching The Wire. Because, why not wait until I’m no longer living in Baltimore to finally get around to watching this iconic piece of entertainment centered around the city I called home for about 6 years? I’m sure that I’ll be able to add a voice to the hundreds of thought pieces already on the web! And have you heard about this actor named Idris Elba? He’s easy on the eyes no? I’m sure he’ll be going places.

Or I could tell you that my latest podcast obsessions right now are Denzel Washington is the greatest actor of all time. Period and Criminal. Because I seem to be the queen of catching on to old content, the Denzel Washington podcast stopped updating back in April, having discussed all of Washingtons oeuvre. But I have about two years worth of content to listen to so no new shows is hardly a problem. By the time I’m done I’m sure I’ll be able to find some other show that was hyped ages ago but that I am just now hearing about.

There is a an abundance of content to immerse oneself in through books, tv, etc that there is just no way to stay on top of everything. Thank goodness for archives, I suppose.

I still haven’t dug into my collection of books as I’ve wanted so that’s still on the to do list. Maybe I should make better attempts at writing at least brief of impressions of what I read; that would help with adding content to the blog and keep the writing muscles in shape. Plans plans plans. Never a shortage of those either!

0 comment(s) | Filed under: Adoption | Dailies

Sunday, April 16, 2017

And so it begins

I partially completed the first application in the adoption process a few weeks ago but I held off on submitting it because I had a question for the oncologist. Really, I just wanted validation. I’ve often been accused of over thinking things, or being too concrete. I can’t deny either accusation as they are true. One of the sections in the application, naturally enough, is about medical history and one of the questions ask about any current treatments. I knew even before starting the process that I would have to talk about the cancer and the treatment done to get rid of it. When I went to the information meeting the agency folks made a point of saying that most health issues won’t necessarily rule anyone out but I’m a worrier as we know. I’m a worrier and I’m an over thinker and I have this need to be transparent so despite the fact that I was 99.9% sure that my follow ups don’t qualify as treatment I needed/wanted the oncologist to validate that so that I could fill the application out accurately.

With that visit done last week (and two years cancer free) there was no reason to delay submitting the application so submit it I did. Over the weekend I was told it had been approved and that I could now submit payment to get assigned a social worker and schedule the home visit. Sending the payment makes all of this a bit more real though there’s still a part of my brain that’s not quite processing that this is the way that I may be building my family. Maybe that’s just the heart and brain’s way of insulating themselves from possible disappointment. There’s certainly been plenty of that in the last couple of years. The thought of more makes my heart tired.

But, chin up, as they say. Hope is the key to so many things.

One very tangible thing to this process starting is that it’s a good motivator to get my apartment organized. All of the furniture is in but I still have to find a place for a great many tiny things and put the dining room table together. I’ve been a bit slower than anticipated in getting all that done but I certainly can’t have someone do a home visit with all this silliness laying about. It’s going to be a little bit of work but it’ll feel good to be able to complete a tangible, doable task.

1 comment(s) | Filed under: Adoption | Dailies

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Layered Like an Onion

I spent the last two years experiencing levels of anxiety at work that greatly increased last fall. To the point that in October I had my first panic attack in 15 years. As much as I enjoyed my work I was also struggling for reasons that I still don’t feel comfortable discussing in public. Trying to pretend that things were okay or that I could somehow will things to be better was essentially just adding more stress and anxiety. The panic attack was the final sign that I needed to make changes. So I polished up the resume, sent it off into the world and, thankfully, I landed a new job in the beginning of the year that made it possible for me to move back to northern Virginia. While the move to Maryland helped me grow career wise I always had in mind coming back to Va - a short 6.5 years later and I’m back!

It’s funny, in a not comical sense, that I only realized that I was depressed until the anxiety and stress levels went down. Its hard to pinpoint when it started. I just know I finally put a label to it a couple of weeks before my birthday. I used to enjoy my birthdays, to the point that I would countdown to it - on the blog ages ago with a script that ran on the side bar, and then on Facebook despite feeling a little (a lot) silly about it. And then the cancer and the hysterectomy happened. I understood why I wasn’t overjoyed during the 2015 birthday. I even understood why the 2016 birthday didn’t inspire much joy. Plus, I thought, maybe I’ve finally just grown up, gotten to the point where birthdays are nothing special at all. But even as I thought that I knew I was just trying to deny the truth which is, I’m still not “over” my life being turned upside down two years ago. But I also feel like I can’t say that. Like I’m not supposed to say that. People expect me to be happy, to be relieved and grateful that the hysterectomy caught all of the cancer.

And of course I am. But there’s no denying that along with my reproductive organs, the hysterectomy took something else, some little spark of hope, of joy, of - I don’t know. Something that doesn’t sound so maudlin.

While I was struggling with dealing with the worst work experience I’ve ever had to deal with, the brain had no time to process anything else, I suppose. So when the new year rolled around and I realized that the birthday was coming back around I was caught by surprise by just how little I cared about it. For weeks at a time I even forgot all about it. And I know, many people behave that way and it’s nothing out of the ordinary for them but until two years ago that was way out of the ordinary for me.

The week begore my birthday I was driving somewhere when I thought, “Oh. It’s actually next week.” And then, like the sky clearing up after a storm I had a realization, “Oh,” I said to myself, “You’re depressed!” I almost laughed because i should have reliazed sooner - this isn’t new territory for me. And yet, it still has taken a month to shake the fog off and make a conscious decision to not let myself fall deeper into the pit. Sadly, the weight gain is the thing that has really scared me enough to make some changes. Shame I couldn’t have figured this out and resolved to get back on the right track before I gained I don’t even know how many pounds. I’m scared to step on the scale. Though given that I have a follow up with the oncologist on Tuesday I guess I’ll know soon enough just what the number on the scale is. Not looking forward to the embarrassing moment when they record the higher number in the system. But, hey, at least then I’ll know what I’m working with and as we all know, data is never a bad thing. She says, trying to find the humor and silver lining in all of this.

2 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies | Health | Cancer

Friday, March 24, 2017

To Date or Not to Date

I decided in January to restart the online dating profiles even though I’m having doubts about trying to date. That’s nothing new, though. Every time I restart them I feel the same way. I don’t get out enough to say that I’m going to try and meet someone while I’m out and about so the online thing has been a go to for decades now and each time I do it with mixed feelings. This time, however, the ambivalence is fueled by more than the usual weariness of having to dig through superficial, typo-filled messages (assuming they are longer than “Hey” that is). This time, I don’t know how to answer the “Want to have children” box. So I’ve left it blank. I do, as we know, want to have children. But as we also know, if I can build a family, it’s going to be by going the adoption route. Most guys online that still want to have children are assuming that they’ll have them the old fashioned way. Perfectly natural thought so I’m not blaming them. It’s just awkward, is all I’m saying.

I went on a couple of dates earlier in the month. Prior to meeting the guy in real life, he actually asked me the kid question. I hesitated but then decided to share that I was hoping to adopt. He indicated that, although he’s raised a child, he wouldn’t be opposed to doing it again. “That’s promising,” I thought at the time. Several days and conversations later, I said something that clued him in to the fact that I was exploring adoption now, rather than waiting to find a guy, get in to a relationship and THEN adopt.

“Oh,” he said. “So this is something you’re doing now?” “Yes,” I said. “Is that a problem?” He took a beat and then said it wasn’t a problem. We talked for a few days and then had the two dates. Ultimately, I decided there wasn’t enough chemistry there to continue dating but the exchange about children just validate my insecurities, I think. Younger guys who want kids aren’t necessarily going to embrace the idea of not having their own biological children (generalizing here, obviously) and older guys who’ve had kids, biological or no, aren’t exactly jumping at the chance to raise more kids.

Maybe I’m just complicating my life by trying to date but, really, the adoption process could take as long as 2.5 years and, honestly, I’m a little tired (again) of being alone. It’d be nice to have someone in my life who cares about how my day went, someone to go on walks with, the movies, etc etc. All the boring, mundane, vitally important things that make up our days. Obligatory single woman disclaimer required here, right? I can do all those things alone. I do all those things alone just fine. It’s just, I’ve hit another time in my life when I just don’t want to. I’ll keep at it for a little while longer but it’s hard to have a great deal of enthusiasm about it all right now. Which doesn’t bode well for great results, does it? Oops.

3 comment(s) | Filed under: Adoption | Dailies

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The One Where I Went to an Adoption Seminar

Folks who have been reading me for a long time (or anyone who’s ever had more than a passing conversation with me) know that I have longed wished to have children. I kept putting it off because the time never seemed right, the money was never enough. When I was in a serious relationship, the topic would come up, I’d get excited and then things would just not work out. And, well, we know what happened two years ago (or if you’re new, the Cliff Notes: cancer resulting in a hysterectomy, resulting in infertility). I don’t even consider these last two years as lost years. I wasn’t in an the emotional space to try to follow up on an adoption.

Hell, I’m still not 100% sure. Having raised my sister, been a nanny, had countless babysitting gigs has taught me that raising a child, doing it thoughtfully and well, that takes effort and energy. The idea of doing it alone, it’s scary. This is definitely one of those moments where I think a little fear is a healthy thing. It proves to me that I know I’m not going into this blindly.

With my 45 birthday coming up in 2018, I’m at a point where, if I want to try and adopt a baby, I have to start the process now. So I went to an informational meeting. As I waited for the speakers to start, I looked through the packet until I got to the page that I was searching for. One that I was already quite familiar with as I would regularly look at the information on the agency’s website. It was the table detailing the cost of the home visit, the adoption, and the additional services. The numbers hadn’t changed, a good and a bad thing. They’re still high but, hey, they haven’t gotten higher so that’s something, no?

Part of my brain listened to the information and part of my brain did basic math. What’s in savings, what I’ll be getting from the job I’ve just left, what might need to be borrowed. I felt deflated. It all just seems so daunting. And then I heard a baby laugh. The speaker announced that a previous client was here to talk to us about her experience. Naturally, she’d brought her baby along. As soon as I saw the tiny person I knew. I knew what I’ve always known. There’s no way I don’t try this. The cost of the adoption is scary but this is why I moved in with friends three years ago. This is why I’ve cut back on everything that I could possibly cut back on, to pay down the debt I’d accumulated. I wanted to get to a place financially where this would be possible.

For as long as I can remember I’ve said there is only one regret I never want to have and that’s to not have tried to build my family. I used to say that way back when the possibility of my body failing me was never even considered because why would it?

The mother shared with us that she’d tried IVF and that with that process the question is all about the “if.” What if it doesn’t work the first time, the third time, the seventh time. She then said that adoption is all about the when. There’s no if. It’s just the waiting, waiting, waiting until you get the call. I don’t know how true that is, but I know this.

I want to believe it.

1 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

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